Houten designed their transportation network very strategically by controlling automobile traffic within the city. They have a “ring road” around the city with entrances to the residential areas. There are no major car routes through the original northern portion of the city. Instead, they have a greenbelt for bicycles and pedestrians and a network of fietstraats for the residents to use within the city center. This bike network was designed to mimic a tree with an organic structure that surrounds the residential areas, and Houten is proud that the greenbelt offers green space with trees and water along the transportation routes. To account for population growth, Houten planned a second “growth task” and added the southern portion of the city. The ring road borders the two sections as a result. However, Houten maintained the safe bike network through the city with creative design including a roundabout that separates the bike paths and road with different levels.
Houten’s transportation design was implemented to discourage the use of automobiles for everyday activities. For example, the elementary schools are located along the primary route through the city so that the children can safely use bicycles to commute to and from school. This design also ensures that the shortest route is always by bicycle, which further encourages people to use this mode. Additionally, Houten has worked to strengthen the connection between cycling and public transit. They strategically placed a transit station in the second city center so that the residents have the option to use transit. Bike parking is available at the stations, making the connection easy between the two modes. According to Andre Botermans, Houten believes that if you give people cycling benefits, they will cycle. This has motivated their approach to transportation design and contributed to their winning of the “Cycle Town 2018” national award.
Houten is an example of an extensively planned suburb, and there are various examples of this in the US. The examples in the US, such as the Greenbelt in Maryland, were not as successful as Houten is in the Netherlands. The reasons that Houten is successful are complex; however, there are some key aspects that could potentially be applied in the US. The simple principles of transportation design in Houten, such as having greenbelts surround residential areas, could possibly be applied in the US. Also, we could use the cul-de-sacs to restrict automobiles and create bike paths between cul-de-sacs, giving the advantage of shorter routes to cyclists and pedestrians. This would give residents a reason to not use their car for some trips, and this reason does not currently exist in many places. However, due to the land use in the US, this could be very difficult to implement. Also, Houten could develop such a planned city because of the existing conditions after WWII. With the rapid development in the suburbs of Atlanta, it would be hard to start over completely. Therefore, we would have to use an integrated approach and apply some of the key principles that may work in conjunction with the existing design.